There are two songs that I know which proclaim “Joy to the World!” One is the inspiring Christmas carol and hymn that I sang and loved as a child.
The second song was made popular in the 1970s by Three Dog Night. (You might also know is as “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog”.) It enthusiastically endorses joy to all the world, including “all the boys and girls,” “the fishes in the deep blue sea” and “you and me”.
Both of these songs, in their own way, promote feeling and sharing joy.
And you know what joy feels like. Joy is more than happiness.
The dictionary definition is “great delight; keen pleasure; elation; rapture; bliss.”
Those are all pretty powerful words. When did you last feel such elated feelings? You deserve these sensations more often.
In order to feel joy, it is vital that you stay in action. Do something, even something tiny. You may not make a difference in the world (although you might) but you will certainly send a signal to your own system that you are ready for life regardless of what your circumstances are.
Joy is within each of us naturally. Just allow it to show itself by taking an active part in life.
Think back to as many times as possible when you have felt joy. Is there a common factor or condition in all of these situations? What is it?
Often that element is in the form of a gift. Whether the gift received was a smile, a hug, a sincere compliment, a new car, or a grandchild, joy can be felt physically and emotionally.
Joy brings a surge of endorphins (those natural “feel good” chemicals created by your body) that make you feel flushed or excited and cause you to smile or laugh or even cry. Joy and delight actually produce nitric oxide in your body and that supports healthy blood flow.
All your thoughts create cascades of biochemicals which communicate with every cell in your body. If you have happy thoughts, then your body will feel lively.
When you feel emotionally down or stressed, your body feels the same.
Laughter is a pathway to joy and one of the antidotes to stress. You know, “everyone laughs in the same language”.
In addition to the blessings from joy, laughter offers its own benefits.
- relaxes the whole body for up to 45 minutes,
- relieves physical tension and stress,
- boosts the immune system,
- decreases stress hormones
- increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies,
- improves your resistance to disease.
Powerful results of laughing and feeling joyous!
If your joy is great enough, the feelings can stay with you for a long time. Even better: when you feel joy, you want to share it with others.
There was a commercial on TV that I loved to watch. It shows one person doing something thoughtful for another person, which is observed by a third person who is inspired to pass it on.
The good deeds continue to be passed through several people… until it comes full circle back to the first person who started the cycle.
Here’s a little experiment. Think back to the times you have given joy.
When you did something,
gave something that brought a delighted or elated reaction.
How did you feel when you observed and experienced the other person’s reaction?
Did your joy start before the giving? With the delightful anticipation of the reaction?
You know the saying “It is better to give than to receive” is true from your memories of how much joy you felt when you gave to another.
Now consider what brings you joy.
How can you experience joy more often?
What circumstances or conditions create joy for you?
Think of a loved one who may not feel much joy. What can you offer to them to encourage their joyfulness? It may be to invite them to join in a family meal with you. It may be to spend relaxed time together. It may just be an occasional phone call or letter.
The holiday season focuses on joy. Perhaps this is an especially good time to consider what brings you joy – true joy, not just a passing fashion.
Sometimes pure joy can be found in a quiet afternoon with a book you’ve longed to read.
Or a Skype visit with a distant friend or relative.
Or packing the kids in the car and driving around to see all the magical holiday lights.
Or gathering around a jig saw puzzle, enjoying easy casual family conversation.
Finding joy in the large and in the small acts of your life. En-joy them all!
May you connect with your own joy. Now and in the days to come.
Joy is your birthright. May you feel it in large doses throughout this holiday season.